Initially I was sceptical of The Dukes. I’m one of those people who hankers after awkward films not on general release, and the cinema’s delayed screenings have often meant I’ve missed early showings back home and the late showings in Lancaster in a Christmas-holiday ritual of disappointment. This year I’m missing 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’ll get over it. I quite like The Dukes now anyway, having managed to see films like Inside Llewyn Davis, Blue Ruin, 12 Years a Slave and recently Mr Turner, all of which have been good experiences.
The Dukes offers a range of mixed-media shows, delivering plays, comedy and music alongside film, as well as having a gallery for exhibitions. Personally I know it for its cinema, though it does have a good reputation for theatre too. Both mainstream and independent films are screened, particularly from the UK, but there are usually a few upcoming pieces of American cinema (on the artsy side of the spectrum) and foreign-language films.
It’s an unusually comfortable cinema experience. The auditorium is less crammed than your typical multiplex, the seats more comfortable and placed on a sufficiently steep incline where you don’t have to peer around the heads of taller people sitting in front of you. There’s also a Café Bar, and they’re eager to encourage you to take your drinks into the showing. Price-wise it’s quite reasonable. As a student you can get a ticket for £5.
Part of the appeal of The Dukes is its partnership with the British Film Institute. The BFI has themed seasons of film throughout the year, currently Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder. Upcoming examples at The Dukes include Blade Runner and, yes, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the past the cinema has also shown historic film restorations, such as The Epic of Everest, which documented the disastrous third attempt at climbing the mountain. If you’re interested in the history of film, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on upcoming features.
The main area of criticism for The Dukes is its showing times. Their calendar of screenings tends to be backlogged so that films may show a month or so after release, though this is to be expected of a single-screen cinema. There are some more perplexing issues, however. The screening I went to of Mr Turner was at 1pm on a Saturday and turned out to be subtitled for the hearing impaired. Odd considering it was the second showing of the film, and wasn’t advertised as such when looking on the website. It didn’t detract from the experience, though, and actually helped in the early stages when understanding Timothy Spall growling through authentic Victorian language proved a bit challenging.
Minor annoyances aside, The Dukes is definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in film. It offers a wide range of independent features, or if you would like a cheaper, more pleasant experience of certain mainstream offerings it caters for that very nicely too.
By Nathaniel Spain
Moor Lane, Lancaster LA1 1QE | 01524 598500
[Image Credit: Nathaniel Spain]